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What is a Personal Injury Demand Letter & What Needs to Be in It?

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Archive: Mar 2019

What is a Personal Injury Demand Letter & What Needs to Be in It?

If you suffered serious personal injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you have the power to file a civil claim against the party or parties that caused your damages in California. One of the first steps toward obtaining a settlement is submitting your personal injury demand letter. A personal injury lawyer in Orange County can help you create a demand letter that includes all pertinent information, and submit it to the correct place at the correct time on your behalf.

Breaking Down the Demand Letter

A demand letter is a document you will send to the other side in your personal injury case, or the defendant. The defendant is the individual or party you believe is most responsible for causing your accident and injuries. The demand letter lists the recovery you seek from the defendant. It will include a dollar amount you will accept to resolve your claim, based on your damages. The defendant will have a set amount of time to review your demand letter and issue a response.

If the defendant accepts the claim, you and the defendant (or your attorneys) will enter into settlement negotiations. The goal of these negotiations is to come to a satisfactory agreement between you and the defendant on what it will take to resolve the claim. Your case may end here if the defendant offers a satisfactory amount. If the defendant denies your demand letter or settlement negotiations do not work, your case may go to trial for resolution.

What Does the Demand Letter Include?

The demand letter is arguably the most important part of the negotiation process. In it, you will give the defendant (or his or her insurance company) your strongest arguments for why the defendant is legally responsible for your damages, what injuries you suffered, and how much your case is worth. The centerpiece of your demand letter is the lump sum it would take to settle your claim. The letter will include other information as well.

  • A description of your accident
  • The date, location, and time of the incident
  • Why the defendant is legally responsible
  • What injuries you suffered
  • A list of medical treatments and their costs
  • The amount of income you lost because of your injuries
  • A list of any other damages you suffered

The conclusion of your demand letter will be the actual demand – the amount of money you desire from the defendant’s insurance company. Coming up with a dollar amount may take help from an attorney. You will need to review all past and foreseeable future expenses relating to your accident and personal injuries. Then, you will need documentation or evidence to support the amount you arrive at.

Calculating Your Monetary Demand

California uses a damage formula to come up with the financial award a personal injury victim should receive for his or her damages. This formula can yield an accurate number with which to start your settlement negotiations. It may or may not be what you actually receive for your claim. You will need to add up the costs of your lost wages, past and future medical care, permanent disabilities, emotional damages, and physical pain and suffering.

A lawyer will typically start by adding up your special damages, or those with specific dollar amounts. Then, the lawyer will multiply the number of special damages by a number from one to five depending on the severity of your injuries and the impact they had on your life. Most claims multiply special damages by a number between one-and-a-half to three. The lawyer will then add this amount to the number of special damages for the full demand.

Your lawyer will typically start the negotiation process with a higher figure than you would actually be okay with accepting. This gives room for you and the other party to go back and forth with negotiations until you can both agree on an acceptable amount. Using a lawyer for negotiations can improve your odds of securing maximum compensation for your damages.

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Will a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Pay Me for My Pain & Suffering?

The California workers’ compensation system gives injured employees a way to obtain financial benefits to cover their medical bills and lost wages without needing to go to trial or prove anyone else’s fault. Workers’ comp provides coverage for employment-related injuries and illnesses, no matter who was at fault for the incident.

Workers’ compensation may be the easiest route to take if you have an on-the-job injury, but is it what is best for your financial future?

To discuss your specific case, speak to an Orange County workers compensation lawyer.

Benefits Available Through Workers’ Compensation

All employers in California must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance protects both employees and employers. It provides injured employees with financial relief when they suffer job-related injuries, while it protects employers from liability for injury accidents. A successful workers’ comp claim will provide a certain set of benefits to you as an injured employee, regardless of fault.

  • Past and future medical expenses. You will receive full payment for all your medical bills relating to your injury or illness. This can include doctor’s appointments, mileage, scans and tests, prescriptions, medical devices, surgeries, and more.
  • Disability costs. If the workplace accident gave you a temporary or permanent injury, workers’ comp can give you compensation for your future costs relating to the disability, including replacement income and costs for retraining according to your new limitations.
  • Two-thirds lost wages. Workers’ compensation can reimburse injured workers in California for two-thirds of their average weekly gross wages, up to a maximum. These benefits are not subject to taxation.
  • Wrongful death damages. If you lost a loved one in a work-related injury, you may receive death benefits from the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. This can include lost wages, lost inheritance, and reasonable funeral and burial expenses.

A workers’ compensation settlement in California will not pay you for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological trauma, or loss of consortium damages. You cannot recover for any noneconomic damages with a workers’ compensation claim. If you wish to pursue an award for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit instead of settling for workers’ compensation.

What You Could Receive With a Personal Injury Claim

Accepting a workers’ compensation settlement automatically bars you from filing a lawsuit against your employer. You must be absolutely certain this is the route you want to take before saying yes to a settlement agreement. Working with a lawyer can help you explore all your options, and take the one that will result in the greatest compensation for you and your family. If you accept a settlement, you forfeit the right to file a lawsuit against your employer for negligence. You do not, however, lose the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party.

If someone other than your employer caused your injuries, such as a coworker, property owner, or product manufacturer, you will retain the right to file a personal injury claim even after accepting workers’ compensation. A personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party could result in payment for your medical bills, disability costs, 100% lost wages, and noneconomic damages – including pain and suffering. You could pursue both types of compensation simultaneously with help from a lawyer.

If you believe your employer is at fault for your injuries, do not accept a workers’ comp settlement until you have spoken to an attorney. A lawsuit against your employer may yield better financial benefits than a workers’ compensation claim could. If you have severe, life-changing injuries that will cause permanent disabilities, a personal injury lawsuit will typically yield higher compensation for your damages. A lawyer can evaluate both options and let you know which he or she thinks is in your best interests.

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What to Do After a Truck Accident in Orange County

A trucking accident may have left you with serious or debilitating personal injuries. In Orange County, you have the right to review your legal options with an attorney, often free of charge during an initial consultation. During this meeting, your Orange County truck accident lawyer  will explain the next steps to take. You and your lawyer will need to determine the most appropriate course of action to obtain fair compensation for your damages if a negligent party caused your wreck.

Taking the right steps after your crash can strengthen your case.

Call 911 and Report the Crash

California law requires those involved in an auto accident to call 911 and report the accident if it caused personal injuries (even minor ones), death, or property damage exceeding $1,000. Most trucking accidents meet this threshold, as the size and weight of a commercial truck striking a passenger vehicle can obliterate the latter. Most vehicles sustain much more than $1,000 in damages, on top of its passengers suffering major injuries.

Calling 911 creates an official record that the crash happened, and sends police officers to the scene to investigate and gather evidence. Give police officers your side of the story when they arrive. Do not admit fault or appear apologetic about the accident. Be honest with the police officers, but stick to the facts. Do not speculate about who or what caused the crash unless you know for sure.

Gather Information While at the Scene

If you are able, start building your case from the scene of the accident. You or a trusted friend or family member should get the name of the truck driver and trucking company, the trucker’s insurance company, the license plate number, and the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses. Photos and videos of the scene, property damage, and personal injuries are also helpful to build your case. Get your police report number as well.

Seek Medical Care for Your Injuries

Request an ambulance during your initial 911 call if you or someone else at the scene has any personal injuries. If you do not believe you need an ambulance, at least visit a doctor or emergency room soon after your trucking accident. Prompt medical care can find and treat any injuries you may not know you have, such as internal organ damage or a brain injury. It can also show an insurance company that you took care of your injuries right away.

Contact Insurance Companies

California is a fault-based insurance state. You will call the at-fault party’s insurance company to file your claim. You should also call your own insurance company, as it will want to know about any accidents involving your vehicle. When speaking to the other side’s insurance company, state the facts but do not admit fault. Only answer the questions asked – do not go into more detail than necessary. Keep the conversation to a minimum. The claims adjuster will be looking for ways to minimize your payout.

Contact a Lawyer

Trucking companies have substantial resources to fight accident claims. Their insurance companies and legal teams will do everything they can to avoid liability and escape paying you for your damages. Hiring a lawyer of your own to represent you in the aftermath of a truck accident can level the playing field, and prevent others from taking advantage of you during the claims process.

Contact an Orange County personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after a truck accident in Orange County. Your lawyer can preserve important evidence, such as the truck’s black box, and begin planning your case against the correct defendant. Your lawyer can also take over insurance company conversations and settlement negotiations, fighting for a higher amount than you likely could receive alone. Hiring an experienced accident attorney in Orange County to handle your truck accident claim can allow you time to focus on healing. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

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